2012-11-13

Brave – Looking Pristine On Blu-Ray

by Yo Snyder

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you. I think I was bit harsh on Brave
when it released earlier this year. In my defense though, I had
extremely high expectations. It was the studios first non-sequel since Up,
it was their first fairy tale, their first story set in an ancient time
period, and all of that just sent my expectations through the roof. A
friend put it best so far as feelings about Brave after it
released; “It’s like having a child that gets straight A’s all the time,
and one day they come home with a B+. It’s not a bad grade, but it’s
just not what you’re used to seeing.” I thought Brave was a
letdown because it wasn’t another A, but the fact of the matter is it’s a
pretty darn good, fun, heart-felt, entertaining movie. Watching it on
Blu-Ray, removed from the ridiculously high expectations from its summer
release, made me realize what a good film it is. It’s not the pinnacle
of what Pixar has achieved, but it’s still far and above the rest of the
competition.

I also think one reason why the film didn’t really
connect with me is because it’s a story about mothers and daughters. My
wife was equally parts moved and horrified by the film, but then, she
has two daughters and more than anything, she just wants to be a great
mom to them. That’s what this story is about; a mother wanting the best
for her daughter, and a mother and daughter who can’t really communicate
with each other. I’m a dad. I’m more like Fergus, Merida’s father, in
the movie. I’m generally looking around with a look of confusion and
“what just happened?” It’s important for dads to connect with their
daughters, and I work hard at that, but there’s just something special
about that mother/daughter bond that causes more emotion and more angst
that just about any relationship; at least, that’s my observation. And
from that perspective, Brave is a very well done story. There are
still a few, minor plot holes here and there, which is unusual for a
Pixar movie, and the overall arc of the movie feels a bit formulaic, but
it all has that special Pixar touch and for whatever reason, I enjoyed
the movie much more the second time around than when it was in theaters.

One thing that hasn’t change, and perhaps has improved, is how Brave looks. It’s
a stunning film. On Blu-Ray, it looks absolutely pristine. Producer
Katherine Sarafian said the biggest challenge really wasn’t the curly
locks of Merida’s hair, but more so recreating the wild, naturalistic
landscape of Scotland. It’s very organic, with green stuff growing
everywhere, and very few predictable lines. Well, somehow Pixar
perfectly captured the wild grandeur of that land, and even its innate
sense of mystery. This is a rich, lush looking movie that looks
absolutely spectacular on Blu-Ray; even better than it did in the
theater (which I think is partly due to the dimming effect of 3D
glasses). This is a reference quality disc, one you pop-in to show
people just how stunning Blu-Ray can look (assuming you still know
anyone who’s still not convinced).

Another area where Pixar excels is the special features included with their discs, and that trend continues on Brave.
If you get the Ultimate Collector’s Edition, not only do you get those
reference quality 3D Blu-Ray and regular Blu-Ray discs, but you’ll also
get a Blu-Ray packed with special features, which when combined with the
features on the film disc gives you an abundance of material to look
through. They include items such as the La Luna animated short, and a new short called The Legend of Mor’du,
which basically recaps and fleshes out a story from the film. Plus lots
of behind the scenes features covering the crew’s scouting trip to
Scotland, Kilt Fridays at Pixar’s studio and how they brought Scottish
traditions into the working environment while making this film. There’s a
whole feature on how math is used to make movies like Brave,
some bloopers, translations for the more difficult Scottish lines
uttered in the film (my wife had a little girl in her preschool class
that said she didn’t understand why Merida wanted to change her “feet”)
and much, much more. It’s a solid collection that, when coupled with the
director’s commentary, gives you an excellent look at just about every
facet that went into making this film. Thanks, Pixar, for taking the
time to include this kind of stuff for us fans. We appreciate it. 

One of the features, which explores magic in the world of Brave, has an interesting statement in it. One
of the makers comments that it’s when we are willing to be humble, to
admit that we’re wrong and ask for forgiveness, that’s when really magic
happens. I like that thought quite a bit, and I think it’s rather
insightful. You know magic, especially among Christian circles, has a
bad connotation thanks to things like Harry Potter. However, when you
stop and think about it, forgiveness really is quite magical. Consider
the fact that when we are humble enough to admit that we’re sinners,
that we haven’t lived up to God’s standard and in fact that we’re
incapable of doing so on our own and therefore we need help, when we
just simply say that we’re sorry for the things we’ve done in the past,
for the sins we’ve committed, and ask for his forgiveness; he grants it.
More than that, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
the stain of our past and our sins is completely removed and we are
clothed in righteousness, given new life and new spirit. That’s truly
amazing. It’s mind-blowing. It’s…well, I don’t know how else to say
it, but it’s magical. The grace, love and forgiveness of God is truly
magical, and it’s a magic that’s at the core of the story of Brave.

The
fact is sometimes critics can be too harsh on a film. We have certain
expectations of it and we can get so distracted by those that we forget
to enjoy a film on its own merits. I still don’t think Brave is
the best of Pixar, but it’s still pretty good, and for whatever reason I
enjoyed it more the second time around. Despite its (admittedly minor)
flaws, Brave once again demonstrates that Pixar is not only the
master of truly gorgeous CG imagery, but masters of creating memorable,
engaging characters and telling enthralling, impactful tales. They also
are the undisputed champions of making movies that everyone in the
family can enjoy. Brave is yet another great example of their craft, and shows why they remain a cut above the rest of the competition.